Network administration is one of those annoying realities of using so many connected devices, and while there are plenty of tools that can help streamline things, sometimes it feels like Chromebooks are doing everything they can to make the task more difficult. Right now, it's a hassle to even identify your Chromebook on your local network because Chrome OS doesn't broadcast your device's hostname — a unique label that helps it stand out. As a result, diagnosing even simple wireless issues is more painful than it needs to be, forcing you to deal with cumbersome IP addresses. Thankfully, you won't have to wait much longer before you can assign your Chromebook a convenient, easy-to-recognize hostname of its own.
Back in October, Chrome Story uncovered ongoing work that would allow a user to change their Chromebook's hostname directly from system preferences — no Admin Console needed. This opens the door for so many potential wacky and creative names to help you identify your device on the network. Despite accumulating nearly 300 stars on the bug tracker, the feature's development went silent, fizzling hopes of renaming our Chromebooks for nearly a year.
Recently, we've been surfacing several commits over at the Chromium Gerrit that prove Google hasn't abandoned the feature, and in a recent Canary channel update, its flag became available to test again. Intrepid users can see the UI by copying and pasting the following URL in bold into Chrome's address bar:
Enables the ability to set the Chrome OS hostname, the name of the device that is exposed to the local network — Chrome OS
Switch its drop-down from Default to Enabled, then restart your Chromebook. Once your desktop comes back, click "About Chrome OS" in system preferences, then select "Additional details."
You'll soon be able to customize your device's name through system preferences.
You'll find a new "Device name" entry towards the bottom of the page along with the option to customize it. On my particular unit, my Chromebook's default name is ChromeOS_959745 (the arbitrary numbering isn't here to stay, thankfully), but we can change this to something more creative. When you click on the pencil icon, you'll be able to type in up to fifteen characters — letters, numbers, and hyphens included. The new name will become visible to other devices on your network and over Bluetooth connections.
The renaming feature isn't working right now, so it will be some time before you're be able to customize your Chromebook's name. Troubleshooting wireless issues on my Chromebook has occasionally proved to be a challenging ordeal thanks to a bunch of wireless devices in my household, and it's a pain to remember what my laptop's IP address is. With a unique name, I can find my device on the network easily, without having to hop into my Chromebook's network settings or mess around with crosh.
Since we're still waiting for this feature to officially arrive, you've got a little time to figure out a great name for your own Chromebook. Personally, I'm naming my Pixel Slate "Ayam-Cemani" — so no fair copying.